June 5, 2023

The Revolution Eats Its Own #329 Phillip Schofield


“Do you want me to die? Because that’s where I am.”

The slow-motion car crash, and subsequent public flogging of one-time breakfast TV darling, Phillip Schofield, is unbearable to watch. Though as in all slow-motion car crashes, many people can’t turn away. “Cultural swivel-headery” we might call it. Or perhaps plain old Schadenfreude.

But when I read those words above, it revealed how deeply toxic and damaging the merry-go-round of social media pile up is. And as with every modern revolution, from Robespierre onwards, the leaders end up against the wall, or on the guillotine themselves, shaking, horrified, but knowing there is no way out. The revolution saves its biggest condemnation for those who it feels have betrayed it, or exposed its inner, evil, machination.

So too for Schofield. My interest in him is not linked to my interest in morning TV shows. Good Lord deliver us! It’s from knowing him from his ubiquity because of morning TV shows. And the likes of the UK beast of a kid’s show Blue Peter. This is a man at the height of his powers. Or was.

The height of his powers was actually a few years ago, when he came out as gay on national TV, to broad praise from everyone, though perhaps with the more revealing silence from his wife of many years and his two adult daughters. But so seismic and so celebrated a move was it, that I culturally exegeted the moment in my first book, Being The Bad Guys.

As his co-host, Holly Willoughby, sat beside him back in the bright sunny lands of 2020, Schofield crafted a version of his life that elicited much sentiment and love. And loud shouts of support from all sorts across the land. His was another one of the stories that would, brick by brick, dismantle the old world of sexual mores, of relationships of obligation, and of having to keep your sexual proclivities hidden in an age when consent is the only barrier to sex (that and the obligatory condom of course).

Here’s what I wrote at the time:

Such “comings out” are painful. Schofield is one of a rare breed who gets to do it on national television. And he has not been flippant about it—he acknowledges the hurt and conflict, especially for his family, whom he evidently loves. Yet it is the response to Schofield’s conviction that he had to be honest with himself that is most revealing. Comedian David Walliams tweeted, “I am sending all my love to Phillip Schofield today. I have always held him in the highest regard, and now have nothing but respect and admiration for him.” Celebrity lifestyle guru Gok Wan praised him for his “bravery”. And Dancing on Ice judge John Barrowman tweeted this about the show’s host: “So proud of you and your family Phillip. Welcome to your
true and authentic self.” This final comment summarises the general response in the media. Schofield is now being his “authentic self”; he knew since before he was married that he was gay but suppressed it. As this narrative goes, his life up to this point was therefore less than authentic. His wedding vows, his marriage, the heterosexual family man: this other Phillip Schofield was the inauthentic version, untrue to himself, and in the process, untrue to the long line of those who have shown their own authenticity by coming out. He was late to be brave and “do the right thing”, but he has now
put this right.

Well, as many of us now know (if you have no clue who he is or what he has done, tune out and do whatever it is you were doing, and don’t PM me your non-pop-cultural virtue), he was being less true, though no less his “authentic self” in his announcement. At the time he answered coyly about whether he was already involved in a gay relationship. Was he, wasn’t he? He could tell! No one should ask too many questions.

Which has been precisely the problem, because now, having been sacked by ITV for being less than truthful about an “unwise” relationship with a 20 year old man (who he had first met when the man was a 15 year old boy), Schofield has been shown to be a liar. And ITV has been shown to be just as covert about the sexual peccadilloes of its stars as the BBC was about Jimmy Saville, the serial predator. The young man in question was given employment on the breakfast show through Schofield, then cut loose through Schofield, though compensated with another role.

The key outrage seems to be over consent. Can a 20 year old consent freely to a sexual relationship with a 61 year old man? Surely the power differential is too great. Surely this young man did not know what he was getting in to? Surely the whole secrecy thing is a problem

To which I would say “Nonsense!” Nonsense at least if you have signed up to the Sexular Age and its commitment to the authenticity project and the self-truth that it requires. The whole thing smacks of intellectual contortionism, as those who previously championed Schofield now rush to that same breakfast show couch to shred him. The irony seems to escape them. Those who champion a six year old being coached by adults who should know better that they are actually a girl who is trapped inside a boy’s body, should have no problem about the age of consent. Because let’s face it, that’s where it’s headed.

Indeed what meaning does that have any longer? It only seems a few years back that we were shocked at the Target ads of six year old girls is sexy shorts and crop tops. Now, unless those same crop tops have rainbows and trans rights messages on them, they’re consigned to the St Vinnies bins.

And secrecy? Were we supposed to no longer care what people did with their sexual organs? Wasn’t it Christians and other fundy types who were the moral policeman, always tut-tutting and checking under beds for evidence? Now, it’s completely flipped. The outrage is there for all to see, because people feel they were lied to. Which is a bit rich when every person who is participating in, and celebrating, the Sexular Age, is taking part in the biggest lie of all time, the lie that started a miserable human history of lies; the lie that I am my own, and that I determine what I do with my body, and outside consent (though even that’s a Christian thing that was absent in pre-Christian paganism), there is nothing that should stop me.

The rage against Schofield is incandescent. The glee. The hatred. The mockery. The shockery. The whatevery. Everyone is lining up to show how virtuous the are in all their rage. The deep irony of the Sexular Age in which people’s actions are those of the younger brother, and whose attitudes towards others are all older brother. The Sexular Age is an old hedonism and a new holiness all at once. And what to do now that the beautiful mask has slipped from the grimacing skull? Try to make it go away!

“Nothing to see over here folks! Phillip Schofield was being true to himself in untrue ways!”

Meaning, basically, that we get to decide true and untrue ways in this Sexular Age.

When my daughter and I read Schofield’s line above, about wondering whether people wanted him to die, we winced. It feels horrendous. As my daughter observed, that’s how Caroline Flack’s trajectory went. Also an ITV presenter who was accused of assaulting her partner, tennis player, Lewis Burton. Once again the media went into over-drive outrage. Has Gok reached out to him? David Walliams? Where are you John Barrowman?

What was the result for Flack? Her suicide. ITV seems to be making a habit of this stuff. And of course, the competition is loving it. Best way to boost your own ratings I guess. What makes this most horrendous is that the most immoral cohort in our cultural moment, the entertainment industry, has become the moral guardian. And people are lapping it up. Social media is lapping it up. The lunatics are in charge of the asylum.

Many people might want Phillip Schofield to die. Jesus doesn’t want Phillip Schofield to die, however. Jesus died for Phillip Schofield. if Phillip Schofield were to die today because of his own sin and at his own hand, the satanic powers would be gleeful and Jesus’ heart would be as broken at the loss of a man made in the image of God, whose sin has been exposed, and who could have been offered freedom and forgiveness.

And right now because of his sin, and his arrogance and his getting caught (I reckon there are a lot of nervous TV entertainers out there, paying off ex-lovers as we speak), he is definitely a suicide risk. He has said that it is only the love of his two daughters that has kept him going. The same two daughters who had to sit in silence as he came out to the praise of the world, now sit in silence with their arms around him as that same world shreds him.

The revolution eats its own. It breaks all the rules into tiny little pieces, then stitches those same rules together (all without a rule book), and creates some sort of moral Frankenstein’s monster. It’s frightening. The revolution says that we can all be our own authentic selves, then when our true authenticity gets found out, it recoils in horror, and rushes to fill the moral vacuum with caveats and excuses and legislations.

The revolution has no coherence. It has guilt and a guillotine and that is all. By contrast, the Jesus Revolution sees the one truly authentic man go to the execution on our behalf, and then turn to the Phillip Schofield beside him, scorned and mocked, and assures him that when all else forget him, or pretend to, he will indeed remember him.

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There is no guarantee that Jesus will return in our desired timeframe. Yet we have no reason to be anxious, because even if the timeframe is not guaranteed, the outcome is! We don’t have to waste energy being anxious; we can put it to better use.

Stephen McAlpine – futureproof

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